Computer Science Education in Waldorf Schools

Last school year I got the chance to start to work as a teacher in a waldorf school. I had to give the computer science lessons. Those start normally in the 9th grade and end in the 11th. The amount of school hours (45 minutes) per year is only 24, but actually we never had more than 20. As you can see, students have only 60 hours of computer science at school which is not quite much. On the other hand, the 11th grade class had the years before almost no lessons, so I had at about 20 hours to teach them at least all the basics. Normally I consider about 20% of the time as a free time, so I had no more that 16 hours to teach them. Quite a tough job. I had to have a really good conception for the classes. And I managed to find it out. :)

Here I’m putting this conception down hour by hour:

1. lesson
– reorder the class room, so I can see every single monitor and at the same time, when the students turn in my direction, we can build a circle, so everyone feels involved and invited to take active part in the class.
– it was more than important that we had internet and a beamer in the class room.
– get to know each other. Everyone introduces himself / herself in 2-3 minutes.
– discover who knows what. What practical experiences are already there. Which high tech devices are in use.
– discover who wants to learn what. Every single student chooses on its own a topic and prepares himself / herself to present it. This happens with less help or almost no help from the side of the teacher. This projects were done in small groups of two-three students. This is the most important notion of the concept. It saves time in the classes and appeals to the interests of the individual students.

2. lesson
– history of technology and computer science
– hardware basics
– operating systems. Some students have Mac at home, most of them Windows, almost no one Ubuntu or another Linux / Unix. Almost all of the pcs in the class room are with ubuntu, so the students have to learn to work with it. It happens very easy and fast. Only very few computers (3 out of 18) are with Windows in order to see the difference in the software and to use a bigger variety of systems, software and applications.
– software – a lot of standard, learning and mathematics software, also some games, editors and programming tools are already installed in order to let the students discover by their own new things. Unwanted applications are removed.

3. and 4. lesson
– binary (and other not decimal) numeral systems

5. and 6. lesson
– practicing the computer programming basics with scratch: http://scratch.mit.edu/

7. and 8. lesson
– get to know what is an algorithm through sorting algorithms in the form of folk dances. Some examples here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lyZQPjUT5B4
– Euclid algorithm for calculation of the greatest common divisor in Java programming language
– the Golden Ratio shown on the video Nature by Numbers: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kkGeOWYOFoA
– connection of the golden ratio, fibonacci row and the Euclid algorithm
– programming of the fibonacci row in java
– recursion
– the golden spiral in scratch

9. and 10. lesson
– how does facebook, google, windows, apple, ubuntu, amazon, youtube, skype, wikipedia and so on get or earn money. Here the students have the opportunity to see the difference
– other business modells in web:
Duolingo
vocabler
Fairnopoly
Bookboon
Internet Archive
Khan Academy
and many more.
– usefulness and danger in internet. Some useful webpages were shown:
http://irights.info/
http://www.klicksafe.de/
where is Klaus: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MHILvEUWiao
check your profile before others do it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n1TroNdzbWg
Amandas death: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Au0cemUHTGA
my rape: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F1M5TzXZXXY

11. – 12. lesson
– having free time together outside of the school

13. – 14. lesson
– the giving birthday and giving out some love, money or something else instead of obtaining.
– exponential function and its importance for the economy
– common creatives
– open source, ununtu, open economy, open education, open society, holistic and free human development
– some example videos on the different topics:
Creative Commons Kiwi
The Shuttleworth Foundation’s Open Philosoph
How Linux is Built
GIMP and the Four Essential Software Freedoms

15. and 16. lesson
– student presentations in different topics

17. lesson
– electronics, electricity, recycling.
– pictures and articles about waste
– how much electricity facebook and google use?
– some videos:
Greenpeace to Facebook: “Stop using coal!!!”
The Story of Electronics
– here and in all other topics there where a lot of vivid discussions

18. lesson
– the importance of dreams
– impact of tv, mps player, mobile phone, computer and gaming, especially before the 14th age of a kid.
– making difference betwenn the impacts for the thinking, feeling and freewill development
– making the difference between active and passive
– having a good balance and making the best of the technology

19. lesson
– back to the dreams and what is the difference between fantasy, enjoyment, plan, cultural and social norms and personal dreams
– overall feedback and having a free time together in the school

20. lesson
– free time together outside the school

At the end we can say that the students learnt more or less the following topics:
– development of technology and computer science;
– computer hardware
– binary (and other not decimal) numeral systems
– basics of computer programming, bluej, scratch
– golden ratio in the nature, mathematics, computer science
– the notion of algorithm
– internet, new media and technology of the future, as well as its impact
– electronics, server, technology and the impact on the nature
– creation of webpages, blogs, forums
– operating systems such as windows and ubuntu
– batch files, hacking, administration
– the notion of creative commons, open source and collaboration
– innovative business models in internet
– text, audio, music, photo and video creation and processing
– other useful standard, school, education and maths software
– 10-finger-typing-system
– presentations
– the connection of the exponential function, economics and the development of our culture and society
– functions of money, especially giving
– importance of dreams
– importance of free and creative time in school, work and so on

And last but not least – I, as a teacher, experienced what is most important for a good teaching and how to achieve it. Its a mere pleasure to develop myself together with all those great kids and students.